Gong Xi Fa Cai!
The world celebrated Chinese New year yesterday, marking the first day of the Chinese calendar. In 2011, I did a brief stint in Singapore, this little bustling metropolis island with a medley of cultures, the biggest one being the Chinese community.
Ethnic Chinese people make up over 74 percent of Singapore’s population and this was apparent in everything I saw – from hawker centre food to dragon and lion dances, to the vibrant red and gold hues that covered the streets. I only stayed in Singapore for six months but it was a sensory explosion and one that I will always look back at fondly.
Some of the traditions of Chinese New year include wearing new clothes to signify the new year, spring cleaning of homes to get rid of ill-fortune and make way for good luck, and if I celebrated, I think the tradition I would take to the most is called ‘ang bao’, where kids and those young at heart receive money in festive little red packets!
Another important tradition is where families come together and eat on the Eve of the New Year. Keeping with this tradition and to celebrate this festival (like we need an excuse!), I wanted to tell you about this restaurant I recently visited (thanks Tilton and Judith!). It’s a great way to spend an evening with friends, huddle around a dining table and share laughter and good food. Moreover, it’s something different to do!
Hotpot (also known as steamboat) dates back to Mongolia and China from over 1000 years ago. It is the Asian version of a fondue, where ingredients are thrown into a huge pot of steaming broth. The first time I tried it was eons ago in a restaurant in Deira (can’t remember the name now). It wasn’t as memorable, perhaps it was the ambience or maybe my palette wasn’t as adventurous as it is now! Couple of months ago when the weather got cooler, our friends Tilton and Judith suggested Xiao Fei Yang in International City for some hot soup. I absolutely enjoyed it and think you would too.
Xiao Fei Yang, also called ‘Little Sheep’. This picture is of the back entrance where we parked. It’s not all dark and dreary, I promise, just this picture is!
Inside, kitsch and colourful
We ordered a mix hot pot i.e. half spicy and half herbal. The herbal broth had huge cloves of garlic and dried lemon, the spicy broth had massive red chilies. Both very satisfying.
To bulk up your soup, you can pick sides such as vegetables, fish balls, crab sticks, chicken strips, beef, wontons, mushrooms… the options are endless! Throw in some noodles for good measure!
They have a buffet of dipping sauces you can pick from to enhance the flavours. There’s chives, coriander, peanut, sesame oils and many more. Go wild!
Depending on where you live in Dubai, going to International City might seem like a trek but its really not that far. Think of it as a little road trip and I guarantee it’ll be a fun experience.
Speaking of Chinese New year, Namrata’s going to Markette tonight to feast on dim sum and my favourite – Hainanese chicken rice! They have a special Chinese New year menu and today is the last day to try it! Check it out if you can or look out for some #foodporn on our Insta page.
Also while digging around, I found this review of another hotpot place the queen of hidden gems, Arva from I Live in a Frying Pan wrote last September. This place is in Deira (and her photos are stunning!) Check it out here.
To all those celebrating, have a happy and successful year!